It may be tempting for armchair critics to rubbish India’s campaign in the Guangzhou Asian Games as the gold medal tally has been abysmally low till now, with the shooters and lifters being the culprits.However, having traversed many miles from one venue to the other in Guangzhou, Foshan and Dongguan to the rowing complex outside the city, it is clear there is something positive which has emerged for India from these Games. Unlike the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, where venues were in clusters and travel was easy for the average fan, it has been a different experience in this part of China.Just to jog the readers’ memory, when we saw empty stands at venues in New Delhi, the first question was whether tickets had been hoarded, or printed in fewer numbers.A 100 Yuan ticket may not seem a big price, but not every venue in Guangzhou has reported high attendance. Questions on this subject were posed to the Olympic Council of Asia bosses, but their answers were evasive as they spoke of more tickets being put up on sale and how sponsors had perhaps bought blocks of tickets.Without going into the nittygritty, one thing is certain and that is how there are several sports for India where gains have been tangible. An assortment of gold , silver and bronze in rowing, silver in wushu, bronze in tough sports like swimming and gymnastics plus good results till now in volleyball have been eye-openers.At the risk of sounding invidious, I am convinced that it is the new individual sports where India has done well that we need to take a hard look at.advertisementWay back in 1994, when pistol prodigy Jaspal Rana won the standard pistol junior gold medal in at World Championship in Milan, nobody knew what this sport was all about. Agreed, we had maharajas shooting for the country.But the way shooting has evolved as a sport in India and how shooters have been performing in a plethora of championships is praiseworthy.There is no doubt, India have failed in shooting this time at the Asian Games. This should serve as a wake-up call for those who run the sport in the country, where their fetish for holding trial after trial for shooters is ridiculous.Agreed, present performances should be given weightage, but a comprehensive selection policy is a must where one does not rely just on trial scores to pick teams.The second aspect relates to quality of coaching. While in rifle we had Stanislas Lapidus as coach and Marcelo Dradi to help in shotgun, the pistol shooters, barring Vijay Kumar, were orphaned. The National Rifle Association of India needs to urgently address the pistol shooters’ demands.Look at sport like swimming, rowing, wushu, gymnastics and even hockey. The pattern is very clear. Either you get the best coaches from abroad or ensure at home you have committed coaches, like Ismail Baig in rowing, who work with the team like a father figure.In fact, one of the oarsmen was saying that when the rowing team trains in Hyderabad, Baig will even cook up a meal if required.Enough has been written on how coach Vladimir Chertkov ditched our star gymnast Ashish Kumar. But the fact remains Chertkov has made a huge difference and we need to find the right replacement.As for wushu, it is indeed amazing how in a sport where speed, technique, reflexes and style matter, India won a medal through Sandhyarani Devi.What this means is that there is obviously talent at home in these sports and we need not weep that all is lost. From now to the 2012 London Olympics, we need harder training for our athletes. And it is medals from the ‘unknown’ sports which need further encouragement as from rowing to swimming, the cry is for more exposure and training abroad.If in an expensive sport like shooting, the government can spend crores of rupees, some planning has to be done for a pool of athletes who can aim for glory at the 2012 London Olympics.Minus funding, Olympic and Asian Games sport in India will be dead. Since the government has now more or less made up its mind that it will not host the Asian Games in 2019, the least which can be done is invest in Indian sport.We need to get rid of this pessimism. Reality is, today Indian athletes do not go abroad just for exposure. There are talented people in various sports yearning for more encouragement.advertisementSince we cannot adopt a Chinese model for sports promotion, the Indian government needs to fund sport with tight controls in place.Hopefully for that, one will not need to wait till the 2011 budget for getting more money!